One of the greatest things about this job – if “job” isn’t too generous a word – is that I get to talk to famous people about obscure stuff that I happen to be a huge fan of.
Like sitting down with Joss Whedon, director of the $1.5 billion-grossing The Avengers, and asking him if his space western Firefly might ever be resurrected. (He’d love to see it happen, but it’s really unlikely.) Or chatting with Guillermo del Toro, the man behind Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim, and wondering about a horror video game called Insane that he’d been working on. (It’s still coming, eventually.)
The opportunity arose again last week when I was interviewing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directors of 21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and this month’s assault of animated awesomeness, The Lego Movie.
All cool stuff, sure. But what I was really dying to know was: what the hell happened to Clone High?
Clone High, for the tragically uninitiated, was an animated TV series that debuted on Teletoon in Canada in 2001 (and occasionally still pops up in reruns) and aired on MTV in the U.S. in 2003, although MTV cancelled it partway through its first and only season.
The premise alone was brilliant: a shadowy organization samples DNA from various historical figures and creates modern-day clones, which, having matured into teens, attend high school together.
The humour came from the show’s rapid-fire dialogue, its tendency to riff on overwrought teen dramas and from the way the clones’ personalities clashed with what we know about their historical counterparts. Abe Lincoln (Saturday Night Live alumnus Will Forte) was insecure and clueless, Gandhi (Michael McDonald) a hyperactive horndog, Joan of Arc (Nicole Sullivan) a tough-yet-sensitive goth girl, and so on.
Created by Lord, Miller and Bill Lawrence (the guy behind Scrubs and Cougar Town), Clone High was a fantastic show that came and went too soon, although it’s developed a passionate cult following in the years since. So, any chance it could be brought back?
“We talk about it regularly,” said Miller, adding he and Lord recently chatted with Lawrence about the possibility of doing more Clone High, perhaps even as a movie. There’s just one problem: MTV parent company Viacom holds the rights, “and they’re reluctant to really do much with it because they got into so much trouble before.” (He’s referring to a protest in 2003 by 150 Indian politicians and activists, who were upset at MTV over the way Mahatma Gandhi was portrayed on the show.)
For what it’s worth, Lord and Miller included a tip of the top hat to Clone High in their new movie by casting Will Forte as the Lego version of Abe Lincoln. And there is one easy solution to bringing those sexy, angsty clones back, said Lord: “We need to get really, really rich, and then take an ownership stake in Viacom.”
Fine, then, I’ll pre-order The Lego Movie Blu-ray. Like I wasn’t going to do that anyway.
FIVE GEEKY THINGS I'M INTO THIS WEEK
Classic Space Lego
This week’s release of The Lego Movie could be a huge jolt of nostalgia for old Lego fans, thanks to the inclusion of Benny (voiced by Charlie Day), an astronaut from the old-school space Lego sets of the 1980s. Heck, his helmet is even broken in the exact spot where they always snapped! I have a feeling I’m going to be eBay-bound this week on another quest to repurchase my childhood.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Due to my staunch resolve to see this May’s X-Men: Days of Future Past with completely fresh eyes, I’m avoiding all trailers, commercials and other teaser material. But with everyone talking (or freaking out) about the 25 Empire magazine cover variants featuring characters from the movie, it’s getting nearly impossible to resist. Still, I remain firm. I won’t even look at the picture on this page.
There’s been tons of chatter about this latest game from Final Fantasy-makers Square Enix, out this week for the Nintendo 3DS. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Japanese role-playing game genre — give me a Fallout or a Mass Effect any day — but every once in a while one comes along that gets its hooks in me. And you can’t know unless you try, right?
Justice League: War
With the Man of Steel sequel pushed back to 2016, we’re going to be waiting a long time for any big-screen Justice League action. DC’s latest animated feature, out on Blu-ray this week, should help fill that gap. It’s based on the Justice League: Origin comic book series from The New 52 continuum, and includes that buzzed-about scene where Green Lantern first meets Batman: “You’re not just some guy in a bat costume, are you?”
Rick and Morty
I’m late to the party on this demented Adult Swim animated series about a drunken scientist and his hapless grandson, co-created by Community’s Dan Harmon. But better late than never! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to access the show in Canada — the YouTube channel is geoblocked, and it’s not on the Canadian iTunes Store — but there are ways around that sort of thing for a Rick-calibre scientific mind.